Legality of LTX
Apple Creek, Ohio, October, 2003 -- A recent Autodesk press release charging a German company with copyright infringement has raised questions about the legal issues surrounding so-called "LT enablers" and the use of independently developed add-ons on the AutoCAD LT platform. At ManuSoft we believe strongly that protection of copyrights and intellectual property rights is an essential component of healthy technological progress in the digital age. This memo is an effort to explain the principles behind LTX, and to briefly describe how ManuSoft has addressed the legal rights of Autodesk and the sometimes competing rights of AutoCAD LT end users.
LTX is designed to fulfill an important need for companies that use both AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT: the need to utilize independently developed add-on applications uniformly across both platforms. LTX does not "enable" hidden or disabled functionality in AutoCAD LT, nor does it modify AutoCAD LT files. LTX on its own does not extend the functionality of LT at all. Rather, LTX provides the functionality required by third party ARX applications to run on the AutoCAD LT platform the same way they run on the AutoCAD platform. LTX is not licensed directly to end users, but to developers of AutoCAD add-ons who wish to provide support for their customers that use AutoCAD LT. The licensing process is also a vetting process during which we take steps to ensure that LTX is used only for the purposes for which it was intended, and in ways that do not violate contractual obligations to Autodesk or other parties.
Copyright laws in developed countries uniformly recognize the need for interoperability and it's importance to consumers of technology. The need is important enough to receive special consideration and special exceptions in copyright laws. Autodesk itself has recognized this important customer need with its own vertical market products, and recent versions of AutoCAD LT are able to load the "object enablers" needed to properly display and interact with custom objects created in Autodesk applications like Architectural Desktop and Mechanical Desktop.
In the United States, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, section 1201(f) explicitly permits a person to "circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a particular portion of that program for the sole purpose of identifying and analyzing those elements of the program that are necessary to achieve interoperability of an independently created computer program with other programs," and for that person to "develop and employ technological means to circumvent a technological measure" for the purpose of "enabling interoperability of an independently created computer program with other programs." The information and means developed for these purposes may be made available to others if it is provided "solely for the purpose of enabling interoperability of an independently created computer program with other programs." Similar provisions exist in copyright laws in other developed countries throughout the world.
As our legal systems struggle to keep up with technological advances, often new laws are enacted and old laws are interpreted in new ways. This dynamic frequently results in legal disputes whose outcomes cannot be predicted with any certainty, and whose legal costs far outweigh the damages being disputed. This results in a degree of fear, uncertainty and doubt in the marketplace. While no business can escape these realities, we believe the risks are made worthwhile by the rewards of progress.
In conclusion, we believe that LTX benefits both Autodesk and end users of AutoCAD LT, as well as the third party developer community that it serves. We believe the purposes of LTX are ethical and the methods are legal. Nevertheless, it would be dishonest and self serving to pretend that LTX and similar products are immune from legal attack. We hope consumers do not rely on press releases and news reports to guide their decisions, but do their own research and form their own conclusions. We note that while the internet is fertile ground for diligent researchers to find useful and accurate information on this and many other subjects, it is also notorious for legal advice by laypersons -- and we ask that you consider this memorandum in the same light.
Owen Wengerd, President
ManuSoft is an AutoCAD third party developer with a long history of developing AutoCAD-related software and utilities that push the limits and set new standards. In addition to software, ManuSoft also provides independent training, customization, support, and analysis for customers worldwide, with a special emphasis on manufacturing and related fields.